2011 Needed More Cowbell and Motorcycle


I was checking up on my fellow bloggers while awaiting New Year’s Eve to roll in and found Fuzzy Galore has taken time to compile a retrospective article about her highlights of 2011 over at her Girlie Motorcycle Blog.

I was inspired to browse back through my archive and relive a few of my own adventures as a result.

It took over half the year to really get revved up for some reason, but July found Robin and I preparing to travel to biker mecca.

I had originally planned to ride from Grapevine to South Dakota, determined to be one of the proud few who “rode my bike to trailer week.” But the trip turned into a two family vacation with a large rented RV and I relented to become one of two conscripted bus drivers for the journey, my brother Mike being the other guy whose big Yamaha Road Star Silverado kept BB company on the back.

We passed through some incredibly beautiful country once we got north of Kansas…everything in the southern half of the mid-west being scorched by months of drought and beating solar radiation.

South Dakota had awesome sights to behold, but Sturgis wasn’t one of them. I think I might have enjoyed the rally 20 years ago when it was grittier and dustier. What we found there in 2011 was a crowded, noisy, smelly place with over-priced merchandise, mediocre food and overdone marketing.

The ride from Rapid City to Sturgis was nice, though.

Obviously, the Buffalo Chip and Full Throttle Saloon must be the real attractions in the area, but I’m just too old and set in my comfortable ways to enjoy much rowdiness any more, and Mike and I have a classic Frazier intolerance for loud-mouths, so it was best we stayed away from folks who demand respect that they haven’t earned.

Mount Rushmore was pretty spectacular, but I was glad we saw it before we saw the Crazy Horse Memorial. By comparison, Mount Rushmore is a hill when you contemplate the sheer size of the Crazy Horse Memorial. Add to that the fact that not a single tax dollar has been spent to carve Crazy Horse and it becomes even more of an inspiration. Mount Rushmore would have been a disappointment if we’d seen those two monuments in the opposite order.

When the long journey was over we had racked up well over two tons of miles on the RV and hadn’t ridden the bikes more than 150. By the time we got home I was as frustrated as a pyromaniac in a petrified forest. Had we stayed in Grapevine that week instead of going to “Biker Paradise” I probably would have ridden more.

So the very next Friday I barreled out of the office parking lot, swung by the house and strapped a one man tent to the Triumph, then lined the Ozarks up between the handlebars and headed north in the blistering 103 degree Texas summer afternoon.

A mere three hours later I was crossing the Okalahoma-Arkansas border and the air had cooled to around 80 degrees. The trees and grass were tall and green, with a few red and gold specks of an early fall hinting.

It was getting dark when I rolled into Queen Wilhilmena State Park and claimed my lonely tent site. The following morning I rode the Talimena Drive solo, and with hardly another vehicle on the road I was able to get just a little crazy on the curves until a deer crossing the road around high noon reminded me that luck has its limits and skill disappears completely if you you abandon common sense.

That day-and-a-half journey (I was back home by Saturday evening) more than made up for missed riding in Sturgis. I even had the great fortune of the rear Metzeler I’d bought only a month before springing a leak as I rolled into McKinney on the way home. I say fortunate because that incident was the last straw for me with sticky high performance motorcycle tires on my torque monster Triumph Rocket 3. A week later Mike and I installed a car tire on the rear and I’ll never go back to a motorcycle tire on this bike again.

Just for the record, it’s approaching 3,000 miles and I can’t see any wear on it yet. A Metzeller Marathon would be half eaten at that point.

A month later I would return to Talimena, with Robin and Mike and Shelby this time, for another weekend mini-vacation. We didn’t do the Talimena Scenic Drive, but we still rode from Broken Bow to Mena with the girls on back, which was a fun and rare occurrence.

That was also MoonShine’s first outing, transformed to a white and chrome fat bottomed girl from her former scheme of “Blood and Bone” (AKA “BB”). Fortunately Mike was able to help me track down the remaining minor electrical issues I’d inadvertently created during reassembly after the paint job.

In October we pulled the trigger on the final bit of overhaul for our little late 70’s era Ranch and started a total kitchen renovation, including the replacement of a load bearing wall with a hidden beam and all new appliances.

Despite the fact that we hired a general contractor instead of taking our typical DIY approach, there was no time for motorcycle adventuring after that in 2011.

Just as all songs are better with more cowbell, 2012 will be better with more motorcycle.

One Week, What Would You Do?

I seldom write movie reviews. Primarily because most movies these days are utter nonsense.
Last night I stumbled across an independent film on streaming Netflix titled “One Week”.

The movie launched with a bizarre and shocking initial scene in which a twenty-something Ben Tyler is told he is dying of cancer, which has already reached the final stage and spread throughout his body. I won’t spoil what happens in that initial scene for you, but if you watch this film and that scene repulses you, keep watching. It’ll be worth it.

What attracted me to this movie was the box office poster image: the main character leaning against a vintage Norton 850 Commando.

No way I could pass up a movie that has an 850 Commando old enough to still have a kick-starter.

Halfway through the movie I was nearly wishing someone would diagnose me with cancer. Mind you, I wasn’t wishing to actually have cancer (And this is by no means intended to make light of a horrible, painful, and catastrophic disease), just be diagnosed with it. What better excuse than a terminal illness could a man get to hop on a motorcycle and just take off in a semi-general direction without a plan and leave everything behind for awhile?

“One Week” is the Canuk motorcycle adventure vesion of Stienbeck’s “Travels With Charlie in Search of America”.

But it’s more about Ben than the people he meets. And there’s only a brief appearance by two dogs…one in a coffee shop window and one lying dead along a lonely country road.

Dead canine notwithstanding, this movie had treasures. Aside from the vintage British two-wheeled iron.

The music and lyrics were woven into the story with masterful precision, and every time a new song began to underscore some scene I found myself thinking, “I gotta find out who sings that” and “I gotta go buy that sound track”.

Another reason I seldom write movie reviews is that it is so darn difficult to convey how good a rare gem like this is without spoiling the story. There are no mind-bending twists or astonishing political revelations. It is a vehicle that conveys some gently philosophical ideas about how one life can’t impact others, even when the encounter that sparked the impact was merely a casual meeting or a few moments spent conversing on the street. It quietly and subconsciously implies that everything we do, every decision we make, can change the fortune of people…even people we have never met and never will meet.

That’s about all I can say regarding plot and effect without spoiling the story.

But the content alone is also worth seeing. The scenes of an old Norton gliding alongside hills and streams, with mountains and glaciers in the distance, are the stuff every man or woman who ever threw a leg over a saddle at the start of a journey hoped to see.

The palpable freedom of two wheels rolling over smooth pavement, the smell of coffee and cold glasses of beer. The idea of a cafe meal with your motorcycle hitched outside the front window like an old westerner’s faithful mount.

You would think under the premise that the entire thing hinges on a terminal cancer diagnosis that this movie is as much about death as anything else.

You would be wrong.

It’s about:
Solitude.
Freedom.
Life.

I highly recommend this movie. It may bring you to tears in a spot or two, but by the time the closing credits start rolling you will be smiling and thinking about having an adventure yourself…I don’t care how old or young you are.

A word of advice: If you own a motorcycle watch this movie while it’s cold and wet outside. Any hint of sunshine will see you out the door and on the road to heaven knows where as soon as it’s over otherwise.

Press Box Grill Opens in Grapevine

All the good Grapevine restaurants used to be clustered around William D. Tate Avenue and SH 114. That really made it a pain for dining out the least 12 months due to the massive highway construction project going on in that area.

That’s all changed now, because the Press Box Grill has come to Grapevine and is easily accessible on the north side of town away from the construction and traffic jams.

Located at the Northwest Crossing Shopping Center (corner of Dooley and East Northwest Hwy) in the suite formerly occupied by Las Cabos, the Press Box Grill has moved in with the same great menu as their downtown Dallas location and more plasma big screens than Best Buy.

There’s even a 120 inch (that’s ten feet, folks!) big screen in the bar area and plenty of room for special events and large parties.

Whether you’re in the mood to watch a game and have a beer, looking for a great lunch, or an evening meal with the family, the Press Box Grill is ready to roll. Take out service is available as well if you want to enjoy items from their awesome menu at home.

I highly recommend the Heart Attack Sandwich and the Chili Dog. Despite being a long time friend of the owner I still haven’t been able to get that secret Shiner Bock Chili recipe, but I’m gonna keep trying.

I have word from the owner that there will be a monthly “Bike Night” to take advantage of the ample parking lot at the Grapevine location. He’s a Ducati fan (and a hell of a racer), but all makes will be welcome. If you see a white Triumph Rocket III in the parking lot you’ll know I’m inside.

Even if I’m not there, tell them Tim Frazier sent you.

Menu download links:
Full Menu
To Go Menu

International Motorcycle Show 2011

Lame.

The show was pretty lame this year, even with Triumph finally rejoining in Dallas. Swag was little more than marketing pamphlets, and none of the brands were offering any goodies…no key chains, no little LED flashlights, NADA. Seeing the custom bikes and scoring a GoPro Hero2 for fifty bucks off retail were the only high points for me.

As usual the hawkers selling anti-fog snake oil that only works at their booths were there to demand you hand over your eye-glasses at every corner, and the usual fake give-away sign-ups just to capture your email address and phone number were present in abundance.

Food and drink sucked as usual and were over-priced…also as expected.

The show is in decline and unless someone gives me a better reason I won’t bother going next year unless admission and parking are free.